Mercedes Austin, founder of Mercury Mosaics, curates personally-crafted handmade ceramic tiles made with vibrant colors and standout textures for her clients.
The mythical Roman god, Mercury, is associated with speed, proficiency and war. However, he also has a more reflective side to his personality, being equally known as the god of skilled trade and craftsmanship. These more artistic qualities of Mercury continue to resonate with the Minneapolis-based artisan, Mercedes Austin, who lived most of her life in the fast lane, but then decided to change gears, slow down and hit the reset button on life.
She describes her former self as the “stereotypical artist,” the type that is hampered with addiction, self-doubt and with no focused career path. Once she committed to ceramics and mosaic art though, she realized she could transform it into a viable business (as long as she tuned out the naysayers). The necessity for raw materials, as it so happened, became the mother of invention for Mercury Mosaics, a 15-year-old company with 33 employees and $2.2 million in revenue last year, driven by both residential and commercial commissions.
The company began as a supply chain for her art, Austin explains. “At some point, I had two options: feed into the stereotype and make all the haters right, or, invest in myself and become the new artist that I want to see in the world. I found I could give power to what I didn’t want to hear, or, like a determined athlete, found ways to measure my performance and just get better with each year. Next, I found I was beating my goals. One day, it became less about me making a living as a mosaic artist. I haven’t quite switched back to being a mosaic artist.”
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